I am a 28-years-old unmarried and single woman in today’s India. This one sentence creates a saddening picture in the minds of many people. Eyes on me are often filled with empathy, questions, and sometimes, even disgust.
The most common question is the obvious one: why are you not getting married? Although the first response in my head is “It is none of your business“, I choose to not answer. This saves my mental peace from the mind vultures of society and myself.
I grew up in a conservative family, protected in school by my brother, who is a year older than me. You get the idea! This sincere, studious and shy girl had no boyfriend.
End of school, I met a guy and my dream love story began. Being together for five years, it was difficult imagining a life without him. I was 24 when my parents showed me a picture of a guy on their phone. I was home on winter break from last year of my dental school. I was sure about my choice; I knew this day would come, we had already discussed it. I told my parents about the presence of this perfect guy in my life and my wish to marry him.
The hell broke loose. “You cannot marry in another caste“. This was the statement from both families. The rest of the story went down the obvious path. Our relationship turned sour trying to convince them and ended soon after.
A fresh graduate from dental school with unpaid jobs on horizon, a broken heart and an unsuccessful desire to study further; this deadly combination started to push me in a direction that never ends well. After a year of constant struggle to keep me sane, studying for post-graduate entrance exams and looking for a reasonable job, I secured myself a one-year contractual job in a government hospital with respectable pay.
Embedded in tons of patient load, the days were quick to pass. Nights were spent feeling lonely. My loneliness was compounded by family pressure to get married and the fear of going back to previous year’s struggle after the contract completion. To deepen it further, colleagues and friends were getting married at the speed of light. I finally made an account on a matrimonial site, as advised by my family. They were also constantly looking for a match.
This was the beginning of the end of my depression phase 1.
I started to feel desperate to find a guy to settle down with. It would complete at least one aspect of life and end the constant worry of my parents. I was reaching the end of my contract and close to the PG Entrance exam, 15 days before which, my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. Our lives, as known to us, were shattered.
And, then began phase 2: Depressed + Desperate + Hopeless.
All the guys I talked to via the matrimonial site, it didn’t work out with anyone. There were time issues, thinking issues, mismatched profession issues, my plans of studying further issues and the bomb- COVID-19 issues.
Over the next 10 months, I had five emotional setbacks due to those hopeful matches which never worked; the pandemic reduced the chances of my career advancements as there were no jobs, and my mother’s health kept on increasing the pressure of marriage.
This is when phase 3 began: depression, frustration and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. This is also the time when my desire of getting married jumped out the window. The fairy tale ideas and dreams of perfect love got buried under 1000s other emotions.
With improving mother’s health and indefinite postponement of PG admissions, another emotion surfaced out of uncertainty- confusion- the latest phase of mental state.
I am confused why I quit the job which I found after so many difficulties. I am confused, I want to get married or not. I am confused if I am capable of a relationship now. I am confused if I am making the right choice by deciding to switch my career. I am confused, I am the worst daughter to see my parents so deeply saddened because of me. I am confused about choosing my career path over the requirement to find a partner ASAP. I am confused about the reason for my existence.
I am confused if this answers the question; Why am I not getting married?
Guess what…”It is none of your business.”